Suriname Country Overview

By | January 14, 2022

Suriname. Former Dutch Guiana, is a state in northeastern South America, bounded to the north by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by French Guiana, to the south by Brazil, and to the west by Guyana.


Before the arrival of the Europeans, the territory corresponding to Suriname today was populated by tribes of Amerindians, Arawaks and Caribs. The Dutch occupied the territory in 1581 and, during the first half of the 17th century, English merchants colonized the region. In 1667, the British ceded their share to the Dutch in exchange for New Holland (in North America).

At the beginning of the 19th century, after the Napoleonic wars, Great Britain officially recognized Suriname as the property of the Netherlands. Slavery was abolished in 1863, and numerous immigrants from India and Indonesia settled in the territory. In 1922, Suriname became an integral part of the territory of the Netherlands, but a new Constitution adopted in 1954 gave it great autonomy within the kingdom.

The 25 of November of 1975, the Dutch Parlement decided to grant independence to Suriname, endowed with a parliamentary constitution type, and Henck Arron, political man of Creole origin, was then the Prime Minister. However, a hundred thousand residents decided to keep Dutch nationality and emigrated to the Netherlands. In February 1980, Arron was overthrown by a military coup and Colonel Bouterse was installed at the head of the country. He put an end to the democratic regime and ruled by decree as commander-in-chief of the army and president of the political center.

However, the social unrest won over the population and the guerilla broke out in 1986, causing a destabilization of the national economy. The democratization process was symbolized by the establishment of a new constitution, approved in 1987, which restored a civil government and organized parliamentary elections. In January 1988, Ramsewak Shankar was elected President by the National Assembly, and Arron became Vice President. But Bouterse continued to hold the reins of power and overthrew the Shankar government in December 1990.

New legislative elections took place in May 1991 and in September of the same year, Ronald Venetiaan became president and pushed the country towards signing a peace agreement with the rebels.


According to internetsailors, Suriname’s topography consists of a marshy coastal plain extending up to a length of 80 km towards the Atlantic Ocean, a central plateau covered with extensive savannas, dunes and jungles, and to the south, a mountainous region covered with dense jungles.

Suriname is crossed by numerous water courses, among them the Maroni, bordering the border with French Guiana ; the Courantyne, which follows the border with Guyana ; as well as Coppename, Saramacca and Surinam.

Suriname’s main natural resources are bauxite, iron, copper, nickel, as well as wood from the immense forests.


It has an equatorial climate, very hot and humid, with annual temperatures between 23 ° and 32 ° C.


Agriculture is essentially practiced on the coastal plain and in the valleys. Rice is the main crop, followed by cocoa, coffee, citrus fruits, bananas and sugar cane. Shrimp fishing is practiced along the coasts.

The economy of the secondary sector rests on the extraction and treatment of bauxite (transformed into alumina and aluminum).

Among the mining companies, the following stand out:

  • Rosebel gold mine.
  • Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals (AWAC) mining consortium and its subsidiary Suralco.
  • Australian mining consortium BHP Billiton, through its subsidiary BHP Billiton Suriname.


  • Blue Winds airline. There are 50 airports, but only 5 have paved runways.
  • There are 4304 km of roads, a third of which are paved. In general they lack maintenance and are usually occupied by herds for hours.
  • There are 1200 km of inland waterways.
  • Besides the capital, the other important port is Wageningen. The merchant marine is made up of a single vessel.


There are 81,500 fixed telephone lines and 320,000 mobile phones (2006 data). There are 4 AM, 13 FM and one shortwave radios (1998 data), as well as 3 television stations.

The country has some 33 Internet servers and 44,000 users.


Suriname has a population of 415,000. The most represented ethnic groups are the Hindo-Pakistanis, who constitute about 37% of the population, and the Creoles (of both African and Amerindian origin), who represent 31% of the population. There are also Indonesians (15%), black Africans, descendants of slaves who fled migrating to the interior (10%), Amerindians, descendants of indigenous tribes (3%), Chinese (2%) and Europeans (1%).


In addition to Dutch, Creole languages such as Sranang Tongo, English, Caribbean Hindustani (dialect of Hindi) and Javanese are spoken.


Government and political life

Until 1980, Suriname was governed by a constitution adopted in 1975. The state was then led by a president elected by the people, a council of ministers and a unicameral Parliament. After a coup in 1980, the Constitution was suspended, Parliament dissolved, and the political center, a council of the military, began to rule by decree.

The new Constitution, adopted by referendum in 1987, later establishes a National Assembly, composed of 51 members and empowered to elect the president.



Christianity 48% (Catholicism 22.8%, Protestant 25.2%), Hinduism 27.4%, Islam 19.6%, Animists 5% (2009)

Typical food

Due to its location and history, Surinamese cuisine displays a combination of several different cultures. It combines Caribbean recipes along with elements brought by the Dutch, Chinese, Jewish, Lebanese, Indian, West African, Spanish, and French cultures, among others. The variety of recipes and ingredients that it combines makes the gastronomy of Suriname very varied and interesting.

Surinamese cuisine is characterized by the use of a lot of meat, corn, seafood, fruit, hot peppers, vegetables, and cheeses, among others. Beans are also an important component of Surinamese cuisine; they can be found in a wide variety of dishes.

One of the most traditional dishes in Suriname is vatapa. Vatapa is a seafood dish that includes different types of fish along with vegetables and pepper. Another popular Surinamese dish is the pepper pot. The pepper pot consists of a stew made with pepper, meat, vinegar, and spices.

Suriname Country Overview